August 09, 2012

The Sword of the Lord

Joshua 5:2-8, 13-15

Joshua … saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand.
—Joshua 5:13


The instruction to circumcise all the Israelite soldiers made no military sense. Blood loss from surgery would weaken the army; it would take extra time for the men to regain strength. But the surgery God required would show God’s strength through Israel’s weakness.

Before wielding his sword against the peoples of Canaan, God used it, in a sense, on his own people, to remind them of their identity. Since the time of Abraham (Genesis 17) circumcision had been a sign of total commitment to God. Before engaging in battle against Jericho, God called Israel to affirm their commitment, to show they belonged to him, body and soul. In addition, Joshua learned from the Lord’s army commander that he had to change his thinking to prepare for doing battle God’s way.

Today we engage in bringing the gospel of the Lord to people who do not believe in him. What conditions must we meet before doing so? Must we make sure we get a proper education? Gain the backing of a church? Be willing to be scorned? Have enough time to visit people? All of these are important, but they are not enough.

The condition we must meet is to die to our own ways and yield to the Lord’s way. Circumcision pointed to this. Unless we are buried with Christ through baptism, we do not have new life (Romans 6:4). Unless we belong to God, body and soul, we cannot speak sincerely in Jesus’ name and help with advancing his kingdom.

“Have thine own way, Lord,” guiding us to serve you faithfully. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

Start your day with quick daily devotions.

See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!